Islam Channel fined £40,000 over 'antisemitic' conspiracy theory documentary

The broadcaster aired a film that alleged Jews were trying to create a state in Argentina and Chile


A UK-based TV channel for British muslims has been fined £40,000 after airing an "antisemitic" documentary that claimed Israel was trying to take over part of Argentina and Chile.

In February 2021, the Islam Channel broadcast an hour-long film titled The Andinia Plan, which alleged there are plans to create a new Jewish state in Patagonia - a sparsely populated region at the bottom of South America.

The conspiracy theory first appeared in a magazine published by a group of Argentinian neo-Nazis led by the sons of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichman.

Sparked by a suggestion by political activist Theodore Herzl that a future Jewish state could lie in Argentina, it typically involves the belief that there is an international plot to promote Jewish migration to the country, take control of its economy, and eventually seize its land.

While seemingly absurd, the theory has affected Jews who travel to and live in the region.

In 2012, after an Israeli tourist was questioned by Chilean authorities after a forest fire began in an environmental reserve, antisemitic comments were posted online referencing the Andenia Plan.

Writing on X/Twitter, one Chilean congressman questioned whether the man in question was really on holiday, suggesting that he had been sent by the Israeli government after "killing Palestinian children".

The Islam Channel's documentary featured claims that "an old proposal from the end of the 19th century could be resurfacing in order to change the political map of South America."

The narrator later added: "According to scholars on the subject, there are indications that might signal that the proposal may be re-emerging with force in a modern-day plan that allegedly could seek to create a new Jewish state in Patagonia in the not too distant future."

Eugenio Tuma Sedan, described in a caption as Senator of the Republic of Chile, further claimed: “There are allegations regarding the aspirations of the Zionists, that not only did they wish to occupy Palestinian territories, but they also wanted a back-up option in the south of Chile and the south of Argentina."

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom has now ruled the documentary programme amounted to hate speech against Jewish people.

"The content was also potentially offensive and not justified by the context," they said.

The Islam Channel apologised "unreservedly" for broadcasting the documentary and said the employee responsible for putting it on air had suffered a family bereavement the week before the film was scheduled.

It was only due to “extraordinary circumstances... that this error was able to occur," they told Ofcom.

As soon as the channel was made aware of a complaint to Ofcom, it broadcast two apologies in which it said the film contained material "which would be considered offensive to Jewish people".

They added: "We apologise unreservedly for any offence caused and would like to make it clear that Islam Channel profoundly regrets that this programme was broadcast and does not endorse any of the opinions expressed in this documentary.

"Islam Channel aims to promote mutual respect between different communities, faiths and cultures and would not wish to do anything to undermine this aim."

In 2020, the channel was forced to pay £20,000 after broadcasting a religious education series that contained "antisemitic hate speech".

Ofcom said The Rightly Guided Khalifas contained "uncontextualized antisemitic hate speech which amounted to the abuse or derogatory treatment of Jewish people".

Earlier this year, the Islam Channel hosted the former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 98, who has said he is “glad to be labelled antisemitic” and that sympathy for Holocaust victims is “wasted and misplaced”.

The Islam Channel was contacted for further comment.

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